Flex in Style: The Unrivaled Coolness of Weightlifting

Flex in Style: The Unrivaled Coolness of Weightlifting

By Malia Warren

Today we're here to convince you that weightlifting is one of the coolest sports around. Yes, watching people lift insane amounts of weight is awesome, but have you seen the outfits?

If you've ever stepped foot into a weightlifting gym or witnessed elite athletes performing their jaw-dropping feats of strength, you've likely encountered these sleek and powerful outfits. And let's be honest, they are so much more than just a piece of sportswear – they exude confidence, showcase athleticism, and embody the spirit of the athletes who wear them.

You can literally lift in a kitten singlet, with a leopard print belt, and flowery knee sleeves, AT THE SAME TIME, and lift some heavy weights. 

"bUt I dOn'T wAnT to wEar a siNgLeT..." someone said and almost let it keep them from competing. 

It's me. I'm that someone. 

But I'm here to tell you not to let the requirement to wear a singlet keep you from competing. Plus, I'll talk later about how to make your own!


A rough start

You've seen badass Quiana Welch in her jaw-dropping singlet right? Not only did she look amazing, she lifted amazing and would've posted a new American Record at 109 kilos (240 lbs) on her 3rd attempt but the head judge DQ'd her for her outfit.

Photo by HookGrip on Instagram. Athlete: Quiana Welch


Are you KIDDING ME!?

According to Garage Strength's breakdown and analysis of the rules on outfits, I have to agree, she was within the rights of the rule book. Additionally, there were multiple opportunities (hello, how about during the introduction lineup?!) to notify her that her outfit supposedly "didn't meet" their standards. But they waited until her 3rd, yes, her THIRD Snatch attempt of THREE total, to DQ her potentially record-making lift.

If that wasn't bad enough, people called her names and told her she was "disrespecting the sport".

Look here people, this lady put in the hard work and showed up with her lifts - her outfit is the last thing that anyone should be worried about. Do you think she woke up one day, thought it'd be fun to lift, wear a legless singlet to make people mad, and land a 240lb Snatch with the intention of being DQ'ed? Nah.

I've seen way more athletes actually disrespect the sport by vocally disagreeing with judges at meets and intentionally slamming barbells down on the platform.

Though this is a crappy one-off situation, there are some positives to take from this: Weightlifting is still one of the coolest sports around.


Because you can do exactly what Quiana Welch did and be unapologetically you.

The outfit she wore was "controversial" in some critics' eyes, but she and Alyssa Ritchey (who also wore a legless singlet that SAME meet) paved the way for legless singlets at that 2018 Pan Ams Trial Session in 2018. Lifters all over the world embraced what they saw: women refusing to bow down to societal norms.

Fast forward to today and legless singlets are totally a thing. In my most eloquent voice, I'll send a big "F*ck Off" to anyone that has an issue with women lifting in a legless singlet. Women have been wearing blinged-out gymnastics leotards at the Olympic stage since its inception.

The purpose of wearing a legless singlet in a weightlifting meet is similar to why gymnasts wear them: it allows free movement in the thighs. Duh. So why do we call a woman wearing a legless singlet a derogatory name? Is it because it's never been done before?


It has been done before:

Here is a photo of Robin Byrd from Bruce Clemens Photography.  All rights belong to their respective owners.


Yup. Legless singlets at USAW Nationals in 1991. FOR SHAME. *eye roll*

Even guys did it in 1984... so why is it such a big issue today? in 2021?

Don Abrahmson in 1984 via Bruce Clemens Photography. All rights belong to their respective owners.


No less than 10 times

The word "any colour" shows up in the USAW Official Rule Book 10 times. There are no "solid color" rules either. How many sports do you know that allow you to wear *almost* whatever you want? Science has shown that when we look good, we feel good, and undoubtedly perform good, er, well.

According to section 4.2.1 of the Rulebook:

This is straight from the 2020 USAW Rule Book, ya'll.

You gotta love that this sport is so seemingly open to athlete's individualities right?

Sure, there are some announcements that come out here and there threatening to change the allowance of this and that when it comes to outfits.

But this is from the 2020 handbook - which means legless singlets are here to stay.

Photo by Frederick News Post/Grace Beahm. All rights belong to their respective owners.


Of the two sports centered around just lifting weights competitively, weightlifting is the only one that allows such expression in their outfits. I feel like we don't need to mention CrossFit because it is already well known that you have freedom in terms of an outfit in competition - unless you're at THE CrossFit Games. Then you have to wear their sponsor-provided outfits.

When it comes to IPF Powerlifting, however, the rules are opposite. "Only supportive lifting suits from manufacturers accepted onto the 'Approved List of Apparel and Equipment for Use at IPF Competitions' shall be permitted for use in competitions."

So, basically, you have to choose from certain brands they approve of, to be allowed to wear it at competition.

Forcing athletes to choose a certain kind of outfit, from a preselected brand, seems a little... boring.

From what I can find, the rules are a little more relaxed at local meets in recent years, depending on the judges. However, if you will be going to the national stage expect to wear only the pre-approved outfit and gear.

I should note, this isn't much different from a high-level (Olympic Games) stage where you would be required to wear a Team USA singlet. However, up until that point, as long as you're within the rulebook's guidelines, show off your personality with that outfit.

Still not convinced?

I get it.

It's so hard walking onto a stage in front of people you don't know and lifting in a singlet. They're tighter than normal clothes, show a little more than you'd like, and you feel silly wearing it in public.

But, you wear a swimsuit in public right?

In front of people you don't know?

You can do this.

I'll admit, it's a little overwhelming at first, rocking that singlet.

However, think about how hard you work. The blood, sweat, and tears you put into your training to be a better athlete. Let all of that drive you and don't let one outfit keep you from competing.


Wear to buy

Pretty much any color, any style, you can find it! You can even have a custom one made for you. Peep @snortlifesinglets for some really rad designs!

There isn't much available when you google "legless singlets" (or really, women's singlets in general) but I was able to find that Savage Swim also has a collection of legless leo's too! You could always go with a Fleo singlet for a super cute look too.

As far as exciting (grrrr leopard print) singlets though, you'd do best with a custom singlet.

But, if you're like me, and not sure you want to commit to the investment of a singlet just yet - make your own! The rules state that it has to be one piece, so for my last meet I went and bought a full jumpsuit (Calvin Klein) from Poshmark and sewed it into a weightlifting singlet.

I cut the legs off and sewed them together using my standard sewing machine (nothing special is needed here).

It was so easy because the structure of the suit was already there; all I had to do was figure out how to get the shorts the right length. For this I turned to my favorite pair of workout shorts to gauge the length I wanted and came up with a 3" inseam.

I gave myself a little more wiggle room for a fold-over and sew and I used a zig-zag stitch to allow for some movement in the leg area. It came out GREAT and it was SO comfy and stylish. I felt good, I looked good, and I hit my lifts that day. Totally recommend this option if you're handy with the sewing machine and do not want to chance the fit of singlets on the market.

Hint: You could also sew a form-fitting top and bottom together (Nike Pro compression shorts come to mind here) but they do have to be connected so that they form a one-piece/leotard. Basically, there can't be any chance that they come apart during your lifts.

Weightlifting has no age, race, or gender limitations to participate  - which quite literally makes it one of the coolest sports around. You can be 22 or 82 competing in a glitter singlet and be welcomed with open arms. 

So, the next time you slip into that sleek, second-skin singlet, take a moment to appreciate the journey it represents. It's not just an outfit; it's a symbol of your commitment to continuous improvement and your dedication to the iron game.


If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at blog@liftingthedream.com 


How did you feel jumping into a singlet for the first time? Do you rock a custom singlet to weightlifting meets?

Woman lifting a barbell

Malia is the force behind Lifting the Dream and a proud mompreneur. When she's not lifting heavy weights, she's probably at the beach or Disney with her family. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside in Florida soaking up the sun, heat, and all the amazing outdoor activities this state has to offer.




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